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  • Osprey. Period.

    SOURCE: From The Front blog
    DATE: JAN 16, 2008
    BY: Christian Lowe

    Clear Your Ears

    I just got off the flight line from a day aboard "Steadfast 04," an MV-22 Osprey from the New River, N.C.-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 deployed here at al Asad air base in Iraq. I'm putting together a longer story about my day and interviews I had with crew, maintainers and commanders with the squadron, but here are my preliminary impressions.

    You ride one, you'll never want to go back to anything else. Period.

    It just so happened that my flight from Fallujah to al Asad was on an Osprey. I was jammed in there with about ten other pax, their gear and a box full of supplies they call "tri-walls" for their three-ply cardboard construction. The guy next to me was a SEAL who's working here training Iraqi army troops. It was his first time on an Osprey.

    Shouting over the engine noise, I asked him what he thought. He beamed a huge smile and gave a hardy thumbs up. Then he told me...

    "I've ridden on CH-53s about five times takes forEVER," he shouted as we sped across the blackened desert. That three-engined beast is really the only thing comparable in this AO to the Osprey (the Army's CH-47 is a good comparison too) but the MV-22 blows the Super Stallion out of the water in this medium lift role.

    The performance of the Osprey compared to the helicopter it's replacing -- the CH-46 Sea Knight -- is like night and day. The most dramatic thing you notice here in a "combat" environment is the extreme altitude gain and loss the MV-22 can pull. It literally jumps off the landing pad and within seconds goes nose high and skyrockets to anywhere between 5,000 and 9,500 feet. The pull up and nose down to the LZ can be so jarring you think you're going to fall out the back...and the pressure on your ears is borderline painful.

    "Make sure their heads aren't exploding," said Steadfast 04 co-pilot, Capt. Lee York, to his crew chief, Gunnery Sgt. Mike Brodeur.

    "They're okay, sir," came Brodeur's voice over the intercom as he surveyed the wide-eyed Marines sitting along the Osprey's bulkhead.

    My ears still haven't come back to normal.

    -- Christian Rings a bell somehow...

  • #2
    Finally saw an Osprey in flight. This happened at RDU back about 12/20 or so. It was dark and at first I saw what seemed like an unusual light pattern approaching 24L. This was coupled by a sound I never heard before. The light pattern then started to climb again. "Go around" I thought and then finally saw what it was. Very cool.


    • #3
      Update: Christian Lowe again, other POV a few days later (supposedly)

      And another one by Christian Lowe, strangely smells just a bit of PR (the "hanger" supposedly being a "hangar"?), but interesting to read anyway: I sure hope the unit Cdr is not becoming too concerned about Sgt. Robert McGregor´s accoustic visions or Lt. Col. Evan Leblancs mystical experiences with the spare-parts... Gotta love Mr. Lowes way with words, anyway... R.

      DATE: JAN 22, 2008

      Higher, Farther, Faster: Osprey in War

      Al ASAD, Iraq - The Marine Corps moved heaven and earth to get them here. An amphibious assault ship was commandeered specifically to carry the New River, N.C.-based squadron halfway around the world to the most dangerous war zone on the planet.

      And there was a lot riding on this deployment. Billions of dollars were spent over nearly three decades on a technology that many said would never work. And its track record -- at least in the early years -- wasn’t very good.

      But the Corps’ most high-profile program is finally deployed, and from the looks of it, the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport is living up to its promise.

      "There’s nothing in the inventory that can keep up with the Osprey," said Lt. Col. Paul Rock, commander of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, which deployed here in late September. "This aircraft can scream across the ground."

      And that’s a big deal in a war zone still simmering with insurgents and terrorist-inspired upheaval. The more an aircraft can stay out of the danger zone the better.

      Over the last five months, the Osprey has flown myriad missions. But most of its hops have consisted of run-of-the-mill logistics runs: shepherding troops to widely scattered forward operating bases, flying in supplies and mail, shuttling commanders to meetings with tribal leaders and Iraqi security officials.

      But, while officials here don’t like to put it in such terms, the MV-22 has been put through its paces with an array of missions intended to push its limits and see just how much the helicopter/airplane hybrid can do.

      The Osprey squadron was tasked late last year with supporting a new mission dubbed "aeroscout," where a flight of Ospreys would swoop into an area with little U.S. military presence, drop off its load of Marines and wait there until the troops had scoured the area for enemy fighters and weapons caches. This was a tasking previously left almost exclusively to a squadron of shorter-range CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters, but commanders wanted to see how the Osprey -- which is in part being purchased by the Corps to replace the 53D -- would perform on such a mission.

      But sometimes the mission is less "kinetic," as commanders here like to say. For more than a month during the November-December timeframe, the Osprey was tasked with medivac missions in support of Army UH-60 Blackhawks. Since the Osprey has much greater range and speed than other helos, it can pick up and drop off wounded much more quickly than the CH-46 Sea Knight, the Corps’ primary medivac lifter.

      In once instance, an Osprey was dispatched to a remote outpost in western Iraq to pick up a Soldier with a routine, but serious, medical condition and flew the 130 mile round trip in less than an hour.

      "We can get that patient back during that critical ‘golden hour’ " during which medical attention can mean the difference between life and death, Rock said.

      Sure, commanders are singing the Osprey’s praises, but what do the pilots think?

      Though it took a little getting used to for Capt. Lee York, a former CH-46 pilot, the smoother controls and better situational awareness afforded by the advanced flight computers and navigation suite makes the job of flying the Osprey a lot easier.

      "In the Phrog, you had to stay on top of it constantly," York said during a daytime mission to a half dozen forward operating bases as far away as the Syrian border. "Phrog" is a term Marine pilots use to describe the CH-46 Sea Knight.

      "With all the technology [the Osprey] gives you … it makes it much easier to fly," York said.

      Pilots can set the Osprey on autopilot -- inputting speed, heading and altitude -- and sit back and almost relax for a while during the flight. The crew also feels a lot safer at the higher altitudes and speed the Osprey flies, staying out of range of most handheld surface to air missiles and small arms fire. And in sandy, brownout conditions and night operations with low-light, pilots can "hover couple" the Osprey and fly it into the LZ without touching the stick.

      But, like any aircraft deployed to a combat zone, the Osprey is not without its maintenance hiccups.

      Earlier in the deployment several of the squadron’s aircraft had a key part fail. At one point "there were a couple of days when we didn’t have an aircraft in the air" because of a shortage of replacement parts, said Lt. Col. Evan Leblanc, the squadron’s operations officer.

      After some arm-twisting at the top, Osprey manufacturers Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing sent over replacement "slip rings" to get the birds back in the air.

      "Sometimes it seems like we need to send up a red star cluster when we need spare parts," Leblanc said. "But when we do, they just seem to materialize out of nowhere."

      In the maintenance hanger there was the usual grumbling about this part wearing out quicker than expected or surprise at that part holding up better than expected. One surprise for Osprey maintainers, however, is that the Moon-like dust here is less of a problem than the gritty sand of Arizona where a lot of MV-22 desert testing was conducted. The finer sand of Iraq is easier to blow out of engine parts and other tight spaces, maintainers said.

      But like any aircraft in a war zone, the Osprey has its good days and bad days.

      "It seems like these planes all talk to each other," said Sgt. Robert McGregor, a flight-line mechanic with VMM 263. When a part goes bad on one of them it goes bad on all of them, he said.

      Though most squadron Marines recognize the pressure they’re under to make this first combat deployment with the high-profile plane a success, leathernecks in the maintenance bays and airplane crews say their commanders have done a good job of keeping them focused on the mission rather than the scuttlebutt back home.

      One nine-year veteran of the program said he’s seen it all, and that while the Osprey does have its limitations, he’d rather be flying on this plane than the alternative.

      "The Osprey’s always going to have its critics," said Gunnery Sgt. Mike Brodeur, a crew chief with VMM 263, as he leaned through the cockpit door during a flight to al Rutbah. "When we first got these birds they were a nightmare … Now they’re a whole lot better."

      "This program’s come a long way," he added. Rings a bell somehow...


      • #4
        Not yet seen one in action. Taking offs and landings can be referred as must-see(s)
        Thanks for visiting
        *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *


        • #5
          USMC News first 3 month summary of Iraq Deployment Experiences

          SOURCE: USMC News
          DATE: JAN 23, 2008
          BY: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD)
          Story ID# 200812362416
          (For photos included in story, scroll down)

          MV-22 ‘Osprey’ brings new capabilities to the sandbox

          AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Marines of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 arrived at Al Asad to support air operations in the Al Anbar province on Oct. 4, 2007.

          The ‘Thunder Chickens' took over the entire range of combat medium lift assault support missions in support of Multi-National Forces – West from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 to include battlefield circulation, raid and Aeroscout operations, helicopter/tiltrotor governance, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel alert and casualty evacuation alert, flying everywhere within MNF-West throughout the battlefield from Baghdad to Al Qaim providing an operational capability over distance and time that has effectively collapsed the battlespace.

          The squadron has completed more than 2,000 ASRs in the first 3 months of the deployment, keeping approximately 8,000 personnel off dangerous roadways and accruing approximately 2,000 flight hours. They have accomplished every mission and met every schedule while maintaining an average mission capable availability rate of 68.1%.

          The New River based MV-22 squadron has experienced a higher operational tempo while deployed, with the squadron completing missions and accumulating flight hours at a sustained rate well in excess of anything they've done before.

          “The area of operations has, in a number of ways, highlighted the performance of the aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Paul Rock, VMM-263’s commanding officer. “Our area of operations is large and the aircraft's speed and range has been much-appreciated by many of the folks the squadron has supported. In addition, the precision navigation and situational awareness systems in the aircraft have enhanced our ability to perform such tasks as desert landings in brownout conditions.”

          In brownout conditions, the MV-22’s unique hover coupled capability significantly increases the safety of troops in the execution of combat missions enabling the Ground Combat Element to be safely and precisely inserted on the desired combat coordinates. No other helicopter or aircraft in the inventory has this unique operational capability and safety enhancement. It reduces and mitigates risk while significantly increasing both Ground Combat Element and aircraft survivability.

          Cpl. Bob Cowan, a crew chief with VMM-263, believes the aircraft has performed better than expected. The normal wear and tear of the desert hasn’t been as harsh on the bird as was originally expected.

          “The aircraft has performed better than expected,” said Cpl. Daniel Stratman, a ‘263 crew chief. “We haven’t had to replace any major parts like prop boxes or anything; the main problem out here is getting the parts for this aircraft. We can fix just about anything, the only thing that slows us down is getting the parts.”

          As a new aircraft, the supporting logistics system is new and this deployment provides valuable maintenance and logistics lessons learned that will enhance support of the aircraft in the future.

          The squadron, which was the Marine Corps’ first Tiltrotor squadron, has been training for this deployment since they stood up in March of 2006. Aside from the normal pre-deployment and Desert Talon training, the unit has completed two deployment-for-training operations to practice landings in brown out conditions and they also completed training with infantry Marines practicing inserting troops during raids and other ground operations.

          “We had some snags at the beginning, but we’ve learned from our mistakes,” said Cowan, a Cookeville, Tenn. native. “We’ve done the training back in the rear, but performing the missions out here is different, so we’ve ironed out the wrinkles.”

          The Marines of the squadron have kept their heads held high throughout the deployment and have done well at keeping the ‘Osprey’ mission ready.

          “Our Marines are doing great; it’s incredible to watch them work,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert VanOostrom, the unit’s sergeant major. “The weather is getting worse everyday … but they have to ensure a certain amount of aircraft are prepared to fly every day. The amount of time and energy they put in every day to make sure the aircraft fly, is incredible.”

          Almost every service member has heard of the new aircraft, but most Marines haven’t even seen the aircraft fly, not to mention fly in it. Now, many service members are getting their first flight in the Corps’ faster, farther traveling and heavier lifting aircraft.

          “In North Carolina you see the ‘Osprey’ flying every single day and it’s just another aviation platform. ,” said VanOostrom. “It’s ironic to see the individual Marine who gets on the airplane for the first time and sees what it can do and says ‘This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.’”

          The ‘Thunder Chickens’ have transitioned from a trained squadron to an experienced combat squadron that has completed every tasking and succeeded in maintaining the deployed operations tempo. VMM-263 has flown 5 Aeroscout missions, 1 raid, more than 1400 combat sorties and maintained an average mission capable readiness rate of 68.1% during their current deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.


          Cpl. Victor Fernandez, an avionics technician with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, checks electrical wiring on a nacelle, Jan. 13. Fernandez troubleshoots power supply issues as part of the aircrafts daily maintenance. Photo by: Cpl. Ryan Jackson

          An ‘Osprey’ from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 comes in for a landing, Jan. 15. The aircraft returned from a general support mission which includes transporting combat personnel and cargo. Since October 2007, VMM-263 has conducted battlefield circulation of more than 8,000 combat personnel and saved lives by keeping them off of potentially dangerous roads. Photo by: Cpl. Ryan Jackson

          Mechanics from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 work on the rotor blades of the aircraft, Jan. 15. The Marines ensure the rotors are properly secured during a routine maintenance inspection. Since October 2007, the MV-22 has had an average readiness rate of 68%. The MV-22 has one of the highest rated comparative performance records for a new rotary wing/tilt-rotor aircraft in the history of Marine Corps aviation. The range and depth of aviation supply parts is the latent limitation for high availability rates. Photo by: Cpl. Ryan Jackson
 Rings a bell somehow...


          • #6
            It's only my opinion but I think a new era has opened with the MV-22. This aircraft will be the first of many to follow.

            It's not a replacement for the helicopter but will provide airlift normally accomplished by heavy lift choppers which operate at a much slower speed. You need fewer Osprey's to do the same job if you have to cycle the aircraft to complete the mission.
            Standard practice for managers around the world:
            Ready - Fire - Aim! DAMN! Missed again!


            • #7
              There was a CV-22 doing circles around the USAFA a few months ago (was strange too, because it was coming in from the north, exactly opposite the usual pattern). Strange sounding machine, but damn impressive at 300 feet.
              May a plethora of uncultivated palaeontologists raise the dead in a way that makes your blood boil


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dmmoore
                It's only my opinion but I think a new era has opened with the MV-22. This aircraft will be the first of many to follow.

                It's not a replacement for the helicopter but will provide airlift normally accomplished by heavy lift choppers which operate at a much slower speed. You need fewer Osprey's to do the same job if you have to cycle the aircraft to complete the mission.
                Question is if the BA-609 will be used by military operators?
                "The real CEO of the 787 project is named Potemkin"